The ladies have forged a kind of friendship that most women could only dream about—one that is built on loyalty, honesty and with plenty of fun thrown into the mix.
Tunku Datin Myra Madihah and Ruthlene Abu Sahid on their bond and friendship
(Jewellery by Van Cleef & Arpels and clutch by Louis Vuitton)
"You are all just really brave to do this story, aren’t you?” The voice, booming and assertive, was clearly heard in all corners of the Saujana Suite where the photo shoot was taking place.
Striding into the living room of the suite dressed casually in a white shirt and ripped jeans, Ruthlene Abu Sahid lowered the oversized sunglasses that covered almost half her face down her nose and gave each and every member of the Tatler team an appraising look.
With her feline-shaped eyes and arched eyebrows, it was hard not to shift uncomfortably under her probing gaze but I managed to answer her steadily, “What do you mean, Ruthlene?” She regarded me silently and I could almost hear that famously intelligent mind working furiously as she seemed to decide what to make of me.
Then, her serious face broke into a wide smile and she laughed heartily as the dynamic entrepreneur answered, “You are all really brave to put me and Myra in the same room. You have no idea how rowdy we can get!”
(Jewellery by Van Cleef & Arpels)
Chuckling to herself in amusement, she made a beeline for the master bedroom in the suite—her faithful personal assistant Ikma trailing after her—where her photo shoot co-star and event organiser extraordinaire Tunku Datin Myra Madihah was having her makeup done. Ruthlene’s playful tone aside, we realised that she was not joking. Putting her and Tunku Myra in the same room was just like lighting two firecrackers and launching them into the sky—lots of sparks and explosive laughter and dare we say, plenty of fire and spirit.
On the surface, some would see them as a mismatched pair. On one hand, you have Ruthlene—a sharp-shooting, tough-as-nails and straight-talking nonconformist who is also the daughter of one of the nation’s most prominent individuals, businessman and self-made tycoon Tan Sri Abu Sahid.
On the other hand, you have Tunku Myra—a gregarious social butterfly whose polished demeanour and appearance is a product of her cultured upbringing from her days in the palace—being the only daughter of social stalwarts Tunku Dara Naquiah and Tunku Datuk Mudzaffar. Tunku Myra admits, “We may look different on the outside, but we have many things in common.”
Interestingly enough, I discovered that Tatler had a small part in bringing these two women together 15 years ago—although the two of them agreed that the main credit should be given to none other than Tunku Dara Naquiah. “My mum went for a La Mer event in Langkawi that was jointly organised by Malaysia Tatler; that’s where she met Ruth,” says Tunku Myra.
(Ruthlene and Tunku Myra at the poolside of The Club Saujana Resort KL)
Suddenly, in an amusing act of parody, she changed her voice and tone as well as facial expression to imitate her eminent mother’s mannerism, “She’s such a nice girl, Myra… a little bit like you, you know. She’s fun, she’s loud and she likes to dance. You simply must meet her!”
Both Ruthlene and Tunku Myra are unable to pinpoint their first encounter but they both vaguely remember meeting face-to-face shortly after Ruthlene returned from the aforementioned event in Langkawi. “When we started talking, we got along like a house on fire and became fast friends,” says Tunku Myra, smiling at the memory of how they marked the start of a beautiful friendship.
Ruthlene admits she had heard of Tunku Myra long before they were formally introduced. “Let’s face it, who doesn’t know who she is?” says Ruthlene wryly. “We used to pass each other on airplanes many times because we were both educated in English boarding schools. We often caught the same flights together but we were not introduced until we came back to KL.”
Their shared love of food, fashion and travel also solidified their budding bond. It did not take long for them to find a kindred spirit in each other and they enthusiastically worked on strengthening a friendship that was built on plenty of honesty, trust and respect.
Their friendship started with the two of them having long lunches (“When Myra and I are having lunch together, our families know not to expect us home until 1am the next morning!” says Ruthlene), which evolved into girly shopping excursions and fun trips around the globe.
Photography: Allan Casal; Hair: Veron Lim from A Cut Above; Makeup: Zamri Zainol using Lancôme; Jewellery: Van Cleef & Arpels; Clutch: Louis Vuitton; Venue: The Club Saujana Resort KL
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